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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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The debate on the Polish problem resulted in a few Socialists and
Liberal speakers giving their support to the Government policy., while the
majority of the Conservatives expressed their grave doubts :sc The burden
of their argument/' wrote the Daily Telegraph., " was that Britain's honour
demanded the fall support of Polish independence and the rejection of
the authority of the Lublin Committee.35 " The House seemed agreed
that the present solution might have to be accepted, but should not be
underwritten by this country/' wrote the Daily Mail. But the subsequent
events proved that the voice of the British Parliament had not the slightest
influence on the foreign policy of its Government.
The Liberal Party (whose leading speaker, " with his tail between his
legs/' according to the Daily Mail, " had made a thoroughly miserable
contribution ") issued a statement a few days later (on 20th December),
defining their position regarding the most vulnerable points of the British
foreign policy on Greece and Poland. With regard to the latter, the
Liberals outlined that:—
" The principles of the Atlantic Charter are being gravely endangered.
The authors of the Charter declared that they desired to see £ no territorial
changes that do not accord with the freely-expressed wishes of the peoples
concerned ' ; and this country went to war to ensure that all differences
between the nations should be settled by negotiations and not by force.
" The Liberal Party urges the Governments of the Great Powers not to
underwrite any arrangement between Poland and Soviet Russia involving
large-scale transfers of territory and population, unless and until it has been
freely negotiated and agreed to by both parties concerned.'*
There was nothing new or original in this Statement, and., by addressing
it to the Great Powers instead of to their own Government., they upheld
the principles but avoided the issue.
The following extracts from the debate of I5th December, 19443 are
the most characteristic and give some details of the Russo-Polishproblem:-
Mr. Raikes {Conservative) : " . . . whole future peace of the world
depends beyond all else upon a freely negotiated agreement between Poland
and Russia. I use the words c freely negotiated * and I underline them.
. . . What is the picture before us to-day ? We are faced with a Poland
which has been devastated by years of war, a Poland which we guaranteed—
though not its exact frontiers—in 1939, a Poland that is asked to-day to
hand away practically half her territory, territory which was agreed to by
Russia herself under the Treaty of Riga., first in 1920 and then again in the
1930Js. I could not help wondering while the Prime Minister was speaking
what would have been said if, during the great days of 1940, when Britain
stood alone with her honour untarnished, the one hope of civilisation in the
world, any hon. or right hon. Member had got up and said c Of course, the
guarantee of Poland does not mean more than that, when Poland regains
her liberty, she will have at least half of her former area.', I wonder what,
the people of this country would have said at that time, when Polish airmen
almost alone among those of the nations of the world, were dying by the
side of our men in the Battle of Britain, when Polish troops, alone of any
troops in the world at that time were fighting beside us on every battle front.
... It was obvious in 1939 that Poland, although guaranteed, would be
overrun, but I challenge the hon. Member or anybody else to say that it